Back to Blog

Unfair Dismissal Protection for Workers Abroad

Section 94(1) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 gives employees the right not to be unfairly dismissed. Whether or not this protection covers workers who ordinarily work outside of Great Britain has, in the past, been unclear.

The Supreme Court have gone some way to clarifying the position in the case of Ravat v Halliburton Manufacturing and Services Ltd [2012] UKSC 1, in which it was held that an employee whose place of work was Libya at the time of dismissal, but whose employment contract had strong connections with Great Britain, was protected by unfair dismissal law.

Mr Ravat, a British citizen, was an employee of a British subsidiary of an American Corporation. Mr Ravat started work in London and was transferred to Libya in 2003 to work for a subsidiary of the same company incorporated and based in Germany. In 2006 Mr Ravat was made redundant and brought a claim in the UK for unfair dismissal.

The employment tribunal found that Mr Ravat was protected by unfair dismissal legislation. The EAT disagreed, arguing there was no evidence of Mr Ravat's work furthering the business of a British employer. The Court of Session could not agree on how to categorise Mr Ravat, so the matter was referred to the Supreme Court.

The following factors were considered by the court in determining whether Mr Ravat was covered by section 94(1) of the Act; he worked on a rotation basis of 28 days work in Libya followed by 28 days leave in Preston, England. Mr Ravat was paid in sterling and his pay was subject to UK income tax and NI deductions. In addition, his employment contract was stated to be subject to UK law.

The Court held that these factors, in particular the UK being Mr Ravat's home and the HR function of the Company being based in Aberdeen, meant that there was a sufficiently strong connection with Great Britain. The Court compared this connection to the connections Mr Ravat had with any other country and decided this was the strongest. The strength of any connection to a jurisdiction will always be a question of fact, but it is important for employers to recognise the factors which a tribunal or court are likely to look at.
The case will now go back to the employment tribunal to determine the fairness of the dismissal.

Share this